Fantasy Football 2011: Running Backs 1,000 Yard Club

One thousand, also known as a grand, a k, A THOUSAND, or 1000, is a special milestone in football. When a player rushes or receives for 1,000 yards, it puts them in an upper class than all those less fortunate souls that failed to put up the consistent or explosive production needed to get there.

Then again, it is also a very overrated milestone. A thousand yards rushing today, isn't what it used to be. Especially in a longer schedule, with different offensive and defensive schemes. In some ways it's harder to get there as a running back because of more two-back sets and more passing offenses. In other ways, a player can not reach four digits and still be better than one that did.

Still, a player will get noticed when he reaches that number unlike one that does not. Four straight 1,000 yard seasons is "special" and shows consistently good effort. Four straight 900 yard seasons is something that won't be noticed.

So, which players have gotten there with two weeks left, which players should get there, and which will fall short? Let's look at RBs today:

Running Backs Already in the 1,000-Yard Club in 2011:

Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Ryan Mathews, Marshawn Lynch

New Members:

Ryan Mathews

Longest Streak:

Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew with 3 straight.

Most 1,000 Yard Seasons:

Frank Gore with five 1,000 yard seasons. Michael Turner, though the oldest member of this years club, only has three 1,000 yard seasons because of his time spent as backup in San Diego.

Analysis and more after the jump...

Analysis:

Maurice Jones-Drew is looking for his first rushing title, but has amassed 4,049 yards over the last three seasons with 1,334 yards coming this year. He is only 18 carries shy of a new career-high, and one may wonder how much longer he can hold up as the only good option in Jacksonville. He's 238 yards shy of the Jaguars single-season record held by Fred Jackson Taylor (Clearly I know nothing about football! Will check back when I get my facts straight on the internet. Sorry everybody.) He's still 4,689 yards shy of Jackson's franchise record for rushing yards, but he is only 1 TD way from the Jags all-time lead in rushing touchdowns. Expect about three more first-round-caliber seasons from MJD.

Expect a whole bunch more first-round-caliber seasons from McCoy. Shady is ALSO 238 yards shy of the single-season rushing record for the Eagles (behind Wilbert Montgomery) but his 17 touchdowns is already the record by a long-shot. No offense to Watters or Brian Westbrook, but the argument could easily be made that McCoy is the most talented back that Philadelphia has ever had.

Michael Turner ran for 1,257 yards in four years with the Chargers and has now run for 5,070 yards in four years with the Falcons. He's well shy of Jamal Anderson's franchise record of 1,846 yards in a single-season, but only 1,561 yards of the franchise career record, held by Gerald Riggs. He's tied with Riggs for the most rushing touchdowns in franchise history, with 48. He will be 30 next season, usually the cut-off point for running backs, so I would draft him with caution next season.

Frank Gore is also getting up there, turning 29 next year. (I turned 29 yesterday and I can't believe that I'm older than Frank Gore. That's the weirdest part of getting older. Comparing your age to athletes and finding out you're older than most of them.) In the storied history of the 49ers, you'd think Gore would be well behind the franchise career record, but he's only 1,156 yards short of Joe Perry. I'd give Gore one or two more years before his legs finally give out.

Ray Rice is working on his third straight 1,000 yard season, sitting at 1,086 with a career-high 10 TDs. He's got a long ways to go to catch Jamal Lewis for any franchise record. He's only 24, and should have a few more years of providing many yards from scrimmage and scoring opportunities.

Arian Foster, an undrafted free agent, is considered by many to be the best running back in the game as of today. He has 1,066 yards and 9 TDs on the ground and 601 yards, 2 TDs in the air, in only 12 games. (Only 11 if you throw out his short week 2.) He has 6 100-yard games this year. He's already got the franchise record for rushing yards in a season, and for a team that has changed RBs constantly in its history, he's only 256 yards shy of Domanick Williams for the career record. Backup Ben Tate has 846 yards of his own and has a shot at 1,000 this year.

Mathews started the year out slow, dealt with injuries in the middle of the year, and had a ball-share with Mike Tolbert. He's rushed for 453 yards over his last four games though and has his first 1,000 yard season with 439 yards receiving. Mathews was the 12th overall pick a year ago and should be considered one of the top running back prospects in the game, who could develop into a rushing title contender. He'll be a first round pick next season, maybe top 6. Seven of the top eight seasons in franchise history belong to LaDainian Tomlinson. (The other belongs to Natrone Means!)

Lynch is also a former 12th overall pick and the Beast Mode is back in full effect. He's been a monster and perhaps the most consistent and reliable back in fantasy this year. On Saturday, two worlds come colliding in the Hawks v 49ers game and one streak should end. Lynch has scored a TD in 10 straight games and the 49ers have not allowed a rushing TD this year. He could score in the air, but let's see if he can punch one in from the ground and break the Niners run. Lynch is a FA after the year, but I expect Seattle to retain him. He should be a RB1, drafted at the end of the first round. I'm still cautious that Beast Mode can come and go.

Not Yet at the 1,000 Yard Club:

Matt Forte, Beanie Wells, Willis McGahee, Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, Cedric Benson, Shonn Greene, Fred Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson.

Analysis:

Forte and Fred Jackson will not make the 1,000 yard club this season. Jackson could have won the rushing title, but instead hit IR.

Beanie has been wildly inconsistent. He's gained 80 yards or more in only five games this year, but will still top 1,000 yards. He's the anti-Lynch.

McGahee is a bit of a surprise this season, having found new life in Denver. Surprisingly, McGahee only has three career 1,000 yard seasons and has 7,157 career yards.

Bush is the major shocker of the season. Let go by the Saints, Bush has rushed for 406 yards in his last three games, after having never had back-to-back 100 yard games in his career. He's a new player in Miami, and in his sixth season he may DOUBLE his career high of 581 rushing yards. He already has tied the most rushing TDs (6) in his career. He's explosive (7 20+ yard runs is a career-high) and not being held out of the end zone and averaging 5.0 yards per carry on a career-high 194 carries. The health and inconsistency of Daniel Thomas has opened the door for Bush, a potential round 2 pick next season.

I'm also older than Steven Jackson, and it feels like he's been around forever. He's 34 yards shy of his 7th straight 1,000 yard season. A few teams passed on Jackson on draft day, and in a franchise that has had Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk, he's the all-time leader with 8,914 yards.

Benson failed as a top draft pick for the Bears, but working on his third straight 1,000 yard season for the Bengals. I wouldn't give the soon-to-be 29 year old a look before the third or fourth round.

Greene is looking for his first 1,000 yard season (59 yards shy) on a career-high 225 carries. He's been inconsistent though, scoring half of his touchdowns in one game. He's surprisingly already 26.

AP is 68 yards shy of his fifth 1,000 yard esason in five years. Injury is the only thing holding him back, and players going after his "high ankle" of course.

Chris Johnson has a sore ankle, and has been so bad at times this year that he may not get the 70 yards he needs to rush for his fourth straight thousand yard season.

Michael Bush has run for 703 yards in the last eight games, coming out of nowhere in replacement of Darren McFadden to come close to 1,000 yards heading into his free agency. He needs 159 yards in his last two games and will be the featured back again this week.

DeMarco Murray fell 103 yards short. Ben Tate could get 154 yards in the last two games.

Not Gonna Make It:

Rashard Mendenhall, LeGarrette Blount, DeAngelo Williams, McFadden, Tebow!

Follow me on Twitter as I try to make the 1k Followers Club @casetines

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